HOW DOES IT HELP?
CAN A NEWLY IDENTIFIED HALLUCINOGENIC DRUG POINT THE WAY TO BETTER PAIN RELIEVERS? ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Salvanorin A is the active drug in a plant called Salvia divinorum, and has potent hallucinogenic properties. Matthew Johnson and colleagues at Johns Hopkins are studying the drug with an eye toward how its interaction with a brain receptor called a kappa opioid receptor may point the way to more effective therapeutics.
JOHNSON: We know that the kappa opioid receptor, like the mu opioid receptor, has a strong analgesic effect, a pain relieving effect, however the mu receptor is strongly associated with addiction, so drugs that hit it, such as morphine, heroin, codeine, oxycodone, typically have strong addiction potential, so drugs that affect the kappa system may be pain relievers without providing the addiction potential. :26
Salvanorin A is currently sold legally in the US, where recreational use appears to be on the rise. Long term consequences of habitual use are unknown. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.